I Vow To Thee My Country II
Good morning, y’all. We’ve had another record day for pollen, and I made the mistake of trying to do my constitutional without a mask. I’ve been trying to do a few laps around the park here at TackyToo to maintain my razor sharp conditioning. Unfortunately, the pollen got the best of me about half way round the loop and I had to make the decision of whether to press forward or go back. Because I’m hard headed, and don’t like to give in, I pressed forward. I just did make it back to the bench in front of the Rec room before the coughing spasm hit.
Well, I coughed so long and so hard that I was getting dizzy from the lack of oxygen. My head actually hurt from coughing so much. I am a person who prides himself on knowing when “enough is enough”. I know that trying to push things a little too far will sometimes cause those things to break. I should have quit midway in my walk and called Mulva for a pickup. Now my hardheadedness was going to put me back on the sofa for a couple of days. Being hardheaded is not a positive personality trait, which brings us back to my recollection of this week’s service at The Full Gospel Original Church of God.
When we left the story, the Reverend Helen Handbasket had moved to the front of the altar in the church and was awaiting the serpents to begin her testament of faith. Now normally the protocol calls for the pastor to do whatever tricks they’re going to do with the snakes before the lost souls approach the Reverend for a blessing. If the lost souls don’t feel like handling a serpent, the serpent is passed off to a wrangler or a “spirit filled” member of the church to be looked after while the Reverend blesses the repentant. The blessing generally takes the form of a few words said in some foreign language like Sanskrit, and then a sharp blow to the top of the head so that the sinner can feel the power of the Lord. The initiate is then free to join the testament of faith, lay prostrate where they fell, or return to their seat.
Well, like they say at Amtrak, scheduling is everything. The Reverend Helen Handbasket had just started into her “tap dance for Jesus” when the first lost soul reached her. The Reverend had not had the opportunity to “warm up” the serpents prior to their introduction to the crowd scene in front of the altar. The crush of people wanting to have the Reverend “lay hands” on them threw off the normally tightly controlled environment. Wranglers and serpents were getting separated by folks who just wanted to get a little closer to the magic that is the Reverend Helen Handbasket. Let me just say here that there is some kind of magic going on, because there were no reports of bites or even strikes while pandemonium held supreme in front of the altar.
Folks were “tap dancing for Jesus”, passing serpents from one to another, and speaking in tongues like it was as normal as going roller skating. Eventually the energy died down and the wranglers collected all of the serpents and placed them safely back in their boxes. The choir raised its voice in, “We’ll Meet Again”, while the congregation closed their eyes in prayer. The benediction was delivered by Elder Diggum so that the Reverend Helen Handbasket could slip to the front door to shake hands as the audience departed. I was headed out the door at the first note from the choir. I’m not ready for a meeting with the good Reverend yet. I know I’m putting off the inevitable, I’d just like to meet the Reverend on more neutral ground.
Well, I felt like I had earned my breakfast at IHOP this Sunday for sure. I made it in record time. I was pleased to find that I had beat the “church crowd” to the restaurant. There were just a few couples in attendance when I arrived. One couple in the corner struck me as familiar, but I couldn’t place them. I mulled it over while I decided whether to order two double dipped French Toasts or three. I decided on two double dipped French Toasts with side orders of ham, bacon and hash browns. My lunch decision made, I racked my brain as to who the couple in the corner was. The man was more familiar, and while he appeared to be in his early seventies, he looked in pretty good condition. The woman looked much older than the man, and was bent from old age. Finally it hit me. They were Seniors in high school when I was a Freshman. They were the “couple” back then. Rusty and Diane Stover.